PUTRAJAYA, Feb 19 — Malaysians are waiting with bated breath for a historic moment to unfold on Sunday that will remain etched in memory for a long time to come.
For it is on this date of Feb 21 that the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines will arrive at the KL International Airport (KLIA), ahead of the biggest ever nationwide immunisation exercise that is scheduled to begin five days later, on Feb 26.
An Airbus A330-300 of national carrier Malaysia Airlines will fly in 312,390 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
This aircraft will be in the livery of the Jalur Gemilang (national flag), symbolising with pride that the cargo within is bound for the people of Malaysia.
The delivery will take place at the Advanced Cargo Centre (ACC) of KLIA.
Several ministers will be present, among them Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba; Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who is the Coordinating Minister for the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme, and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
The unit load device (ULD) or freight container with the vials of the vaccine will be transferred to a five-tonne truck of a transportation company.
The truck, under heavy police escort, will then proceed to the vaccine storage facility, hitherto undisclosed for security reasons.
All those involved in taking delivery of the vaccine, such as MAB Kargo Sdn Bhd (MASkargo); the Health Ministry; Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry and Transport Ministry, are busy making the preparations to ensure a smooth process on Sunday.
MASkargo, which has been tasked with coordinating the delivery of the vaccine at KLIA, has vowed to carry out the vaccine management process in accordance with the stipulated standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure that the effectiveness of the vaccine is not compromised.
The massive vaccination exercise, with the theme Lindung Diri, Lindung Semua(Protect Oneself, Protect Everyone), is a government strategy to ensure that as many people as possible in Malaysia are administered the vaccine to save lives.
A total of 1,030 people in the country have died of COVID-19 as of noon yesterday. The disease has struck up to 274,875 people, of whom 235,082 have recovered.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has offered to be the first to be vaccinated, on Feb 26, along with several frontliners.
The immunisation exercise is divided into three phases, with the first phase from Feb 26 to April 2021 (for frontliners comprising public and private healthcare personnel as well as frontliners consisting of essential services and defence and security personnel).
The second phase is from April to August 2021 (for remainder of healthcare workers as well as those in essential services and defence and security personnel; senior citizens aged 60 and above; high-risk groups with chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure and people with disabilities).
The third phase is from May 2021 to February 2022 (for adult population aged 18 and above – citizens and non-citizens, with priority given to those in red zones and then yellow zones and green zones).
As the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme Handbook released by the Special Committee for Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) says it is hoped that the country’s economy will recover and the people’s lives will improve after the vaccination process has been completed.